Can French Upset Russian hot favourites?
Date: 6/20/2016 9:41 AM
Published by : Mark Phelan
For the fourth successive year the European Club Championships will take place in France and for the second year in a row CEST Tours will host Europe’s premier club event. After the excellent staging of the event in 2015 all 13 clubs can once again expect an impeccably run event in tours which is circa a 3-hour drive south west of central Paris. 

Danish club Gentofte hold the record of seven wins in the competition all won between 1978 and 1986. In recent times Russia have dominated the competition and in Primorye Vladivostok (pictured winning in 2015) will once again have the hot favourites to win the title for unprecedented fifth consecutive year. 

The Russian giants have been a huge supporter of the European Club Championships and with a team that has a taste of a Russian national side about it will once again be the club to beat in Tours. 

This year more so than ever the Russian giants will be pushed hard in their quest for a five in a row.  A combination of injury for Primorye, who will be without the influential Ivan Sozonov, plus the strengthening of the challenging teams means that the Russian champions will face their biggest test in recent years. 

The Russians have players such as Vladimir Ivanov, Nina Vislova, Nikita Khakimov, Ekaterina Bolotova and one of their all-time greats Valeria Sorokina at their disposal with a strength in depth that is the envy of all teams. 

Who will likely pose the biggest challenge to the Russians? Without doubt the home based French champions Chambly (pictured above) backed up by Issy Le Moulineaux will bring the fight to the champions. 

It is no secret that Chambly have set their sights on winning the European club championships since they first hosted the event in 2013 in Beauvais. Year on year the French champions have strengthened their squad and with players of the calibre of Imogen Bankier, Beatriz Corrales, Kirsty Gilmour, Robert Mateusiak, Nadia Zeiba, Bastian Kersaudy and Thomas Rouxel to pick from it becomes clear that Primorye have a big battle on their hands. 

Issy Le Moulineaux, the 2006 winners, come into the tournament as French runners up and like Chambly have the power to trouble the Russians. Lucas Corvee, Gaetan Mittelheisser, Audrey Fontaine and Sabrina Jaquet are amongst Issy’s ranks and with the Stoeva sisters as the ace up their sleeve again on their day can have justifiable sights on gold. 

As the big three we can expect the likely champions to come from one of Primorye, Chambly or Issy but what about the rest? For sure Italy’s Calvi Network Milano will once again be looking to create the surprise of the tournament. Year on year the Italian champions have improved their position in Europe which culminated in a bronze medal last year. It will be a big ask for them to go once better this year and make the final but not impossible, especially with the team spirit they possess. 

Teams such as Recreativo (ESP) with Pablo Abian and Che Lagoense (POR) with Pedro Martins (pictured above) on board have the individual talent to trouble the top teams but lack the overall depth, even in this shortened 5 match format which was introduced in 2015, to really stretch the top teams.

The European club championships brings with it that unique combination of high level competition coupled with the family like atmosphere you can only get as part of a club. Teams such as Velo (NED) and their crazy supporters, TBR (ISL) and the rest of the so called minnows will bring to the tournament that unique magic which will sure to make this the 2016 edition of the event one to remember.

With four groups the top two teams will advance to the knock out last eight stage. Badminton Europe will be on hand all week with live streaming from court 1 via our YouTube channel. To watch all the matches from court 1 click HERE Watch out also for some live content on our Facebook page as we get close to all the teams this coming week in tours. 

To view all the draws and matches from the 2016 European club championships hosted by CEST Tours click HERE

Article and archive images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe

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